[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Jellyfish clog waters for fishermen in Gulf of Mexico


"If it's not one thing, it's something else. I'd
rather deal with jellyfish than oil," he said in
a reference to the 2010 BP oil spill.


I don't think Kenny thought about this much before
making that comment.

Jellyfish are becoming an increasingly enormous
problem in our oceans and I'm surprised our
politicians haven't noticed this.

Anyone watch the story about jelly fish
on natgeowild last night ?

It seems like we are all on the titanic and our
politicians are all arguing about where we should
place the deckchairs.

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Bill Zardus
Delaware County, PA

Jellyfish clog waters for fishermen in Gulf of Mexico
By Kelli Dugan
MOBILE, Ala | Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:24pm EDT

MOBILE, Ala (Reuters) - Last year it was oil.
This year it is jellyfish.

Fishermen and shrimpers along the Alabama and
Mississippi coasts say their efforts are being
hampered by a blanket of jellyfish clogging the
waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

A year ago the same fishermen were dealing with
the after-effects of the BP oil spill, the biggest
offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Tropical weather might have eased the congestion
a bit, but marine experts say jellyfish-clogged
waters could put a damper on fishing and shrimping
into the winter.

The bloom of thousands of moon jellyfish with their
tell-tale clover pattern on their bodies has almost
completely halted business in the past three weeks for
fisherman and bait shop owner Harry Jemison.

"I catch bait, so they're stopping me right now,"
said Jemison, whose family has operated Jemison's
Bait and Tackle in the Heron Bay Cutoff area near
Coden, Alabama for 67 years.

"It's just like a thunderstorm or a hurricane," he
said on Tuesday. "It's all part of living in God's
world down here."

How long the jellyfish will stick around is hard
to pin down, said William "Monty" Graham, who leads
the University of Southern Mississippi's marine
science department.

Researchers discovered only recently that the
umbrella-shaped, dinner plate-sized creatures
tend to flourish in eight to 10-year cycles,
he said. The current swarm is in about the third
year of the latest cycle.

Graham said the duration of the bloom depends
primarily on water temperatures and storm activity.

Tropical Storm Lee's prolonged churning in the gulf
in early September helped open the waters a bit.

Two years ago, a similar fall blanket of moon
jellyfish in the northern gulf "kind of ate up the
entire white shrimp fishing season," Graham said.

"The problem we had two years ago was that (the
blooms) lasted until the end of December. They
usually peak around September and are gone by
November, but if (the weather) stays quiet and the
water stays warm, I suspect they'll stick around,"
he said.

Fowl River, Alabama fisherman David Caldwell said
he remembers all too well how bad things got during
the last peak.

"When you can't hardly get your nets into the water,
it's not even worth it to go out some days," Caldwell
said. "I'm not saying it's that bad yet, but if it
doesn't cool off soon it could be, and I can't afford
to miss too many hauls."

The biggest concern posed by jellyfish swarms is
their long-term impact on fisheries management,
said Graham, whose research focuses on the role
jellyfish and other gelatinous plankton play in
heavily fished ecosystems.

"We harvest pretty close to the margins of what
the stocks can yield and still be able to replenish
themselves, so any time you put a lot of pressure
on early-life stages -- the egg and larvae stages
-- you potentially impact the stock down the road,"
he said.

"We're just not sure how far down the road that
impact might be realized."

The impact will vary by fish species, he said.
Anchovies, for instance, are plentiful in the
waters off of Alabama and Mississippi and have
extended, frequent spawning seasons. Their
numbers might not be affected at the same rate
as red fish, which only spawn during the fall
and are already recovering from the impact of

For Kenny Beausarge, a third-generation shrimper
from the Bayou La Batre area of Alabama, the
jellyfish blooms have been more of an annoyance
than an obstacle.

"If it's not one thing, it's something else. I'd
rather deal with jellyfish than oil," he said in
a reference to the 2010 BP oil spill.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)

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